Jazz Monthly: You know there’s an expression that says, “When you’re hot… you’re hot.” Well, radio station KKJZ, KJazz is hot, "sizzling" hot... by anyone’s judgment. Broadcasting from California State University at Long beach, KJazz is the station that everyone wants to listen to -- and rightly and deservedly so. For the summer of 2008, KJazz had been ranked by the prestigious Arbitron media research firm as having the most listeners of any public jazz radio station in the United States. For the summer of 2008 Arbitron Book, ratings also showed that KJazz had the fifth highest number of listeners of any public radio station of any kind in the country.
We here at Jazzmonthly.com are so honored to have as our very special guest, Stephanie Levine, station manager and general counsel for KKJZ 88.1 FM... KJazz. Welcome to Jazz Monthly.com Stephanie.
SL: Thank You, Joe
Jazz Monthly: You're welcome.
I just mentioned those tremendous ranking and ratings by Arbitron, and I guess if you and your staff were to going to be modest, you might credit your ratings by the increased popularity and resurgence of Jazz in general; but we know that it has to do with how you and your staff present the Jazz. Right?
SL: We definitely feel it is due to having such a wonderful staff and the approach that we take to the music. We do our best to offer the best of “Straight-ahead Jazz,” “Latin Jazz” and “Blues” programming and that’s something we always strive to achieve. Based on the response from the audience and the Aribtron ratings, it appears that we are reaching that goal.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, you sure are. You must be so happy and gratified. I guess that’s the word, gratified, with those ratings, Stephanie. It's just knowing that people really love what KJazz does - not only in Southern California but also for listeners all over the world. Right?
SL: Well, we are very grateful for the response we have gotten from not only listeners in Southern California but, yes indeed from all over the world. We are streaming on-line 24/7 at “jazzandblues.org.” It is interesting because some people come from cities where they are fortunate to have another jazz service, and yet they listen to us as well, and they send money to support us. That says something about what we are doing with the programming. Unfortunately, what we also note is many people who listen to us online are listening to us because they don’t have a jazz service in their local community. That really just highlights how important it is that we really appreciate and support KJAZZ in a way that the listeners and the members have been doing for so long. We are actually celebrating 30 years at the end of this year. It will be 30 years that KJAZZ has been full time as a “Jazz and Blues” station. That’s really remarkable, especially because there are only five full time ”Straight -ahead” Jazz radio stations in this country.
Jazz Monthly: Stephanie, you mentioned that many of your listeners actually have another Jazz station in their local community, and yet they are listening to KJazz on the computer. What a compliment!
SL: It is definitely a compliment. We appreciate it and it is not to say that there are not some wonderful stations doing some incredible work; but we are very proud of what we have done at KJazz. The audience is certainly supporting us and showing us that we are doing it the right way.
Jazz Monthly: You sure are. You know Stephanie, I could tell you that in my own case, I have been listening to KJazz. My computer has almost become my "radio!"
SL: Oh, that’s a great thing!
Jazz Monthly: Yeah. I have been listen to KJazz on my own computer, and one thing that immediately struck me is how well you “balance.” I don’t know if I’m using the right word but I guess “balance” is a good word here. You “balance” the local with the syndicated or national programs. Am I saying that correctly?
SL: I think that is correct. We really care about presenting the best music out there. The best “Straight-ahead Jazz”, “Latin Jazz,” and “Blues.” Something we find very important is striking the balance between that “Classic Jazz” that really is the foundation. The same thing for “Blues.” We also make sure that we are supporting and finding new ways to appreciate all the wonderful new musicians who are out here - not only local musicians in LA and Long Beach, but all of the new musicians who are coming out from all over the world who really need a station like KJazz to support them and their music. So, we try to check that “balance.” It’s constantly a challenge, so every hour we strive to present the “classics” and the “new” while supporting the local artist in the process.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah... that word “balance,” right? You know Stephanie, I have been listening to KJazz for weeks now and I think that KJazz has an intimate sound that is, of course local, but also appeals to someone like me – who might be listening a few thousands miles away on their computer. I still feel connected to your station even though I am thousand of miles away.
SL: That is a great thing to hear. I think that is also evident by the other people who do listen from not only around the country but all over the world.
We have people who contact us and make donations during our pledge drive. They make donations throughout the year from Europe, Australia, Asia, and Latin America. So I hope it does mean that we are not just accessible for people who are lucky enough to have a local station, but that it makes sense and it's enjoyable for some like yourself who’s listening on the East Coast.
I think we do that because the DJ's know so much about the music, and we are so heavily involved in the music community. We travel and the DJ’s travel. They pick up music all over the place and bring it back and play it for the audience. So, hopefully it stays relevant to anyone that enjoys the music.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, it sure is. You are also very "dimensional." KJazz is a very dimensional station in your Jazz "sphere”- so to speak. The “sphere” of it, from the “Main Stream Jazz,” to “Blues,” to “Latin Jazz”… it’s really like a musical “smorgasbord” or "buffet" of great jazz music, right?